A History of Pride Celebrations in San Antonio

Cheer Dallas at San Antonio Pride Parade, 1998

This year’s Pride month has pretty much been the best ever for the LBGTQ community, with the striking down of DOMA and California’s Prop 8 being dismissed, but it’s also a landmark year for Pride San Antonio as they celebrate 10 years in operation.

LGBTQ Pride Month is celebrated every June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village.  A group of gay customers at the Stonewall Inn stood up to police harassment and prohibition of public homosexuality early on June 28.  Other gay men and women joined them as the word spread, and the riot turned violent.  Crowds of more than 1000 returned the next night to protest, and similar demonstrations erupted throughout the city over the following days.

San Antonio Pride Parade, 1998

Stonewall is often referred to as the beginning of the gay rights movement, and parades started on the first anniversary in major cities like San Francisco and New York.

The San Antonio gay community typically celebrated Pride in Houston, where there was a more established community, but in 1982 the San Antonio Gay Alliance experimented with their own festival.  Though SAGA was apprehensive about how their open display of pride would be received, the first San Antonio Pride week was incredibly well received by the community.

Out in San Antonio, Pride issue 1991

The festival continued to grow until 1997, when two competing groups formed as a result of behind-the-scenes disagreements.  Two events were held that year, but the groups came back together for the 1998 parade.

In 2004, however, Carlos Vela decided it was time to host a bigger Pride festival and corralled a few bar owners on Main Avenue for the event.  Pride San Antonio has grown from there into a huge event, having featured Grand Marshals like Mayor Castro and the SAPD police chief, and this year JDA of American Idol notoriety will headline.

San Antonio may not be known for its gay pride movement, but the folks down here are a resilient bunch.  Their steady determination has changed the culture of San Antonio and certainly made Pride Week an event not to be missed in San Antonio.

Source: UTSA Libraries
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